French Passport

My grandfather,Vojteck "Bela" Engelhardt, was born in Kosice, Czechoslovakia to a very large Jewish Hungarian family. As WWII penetrated eastern European countries the draft took my grandfather’s cousin who he grew up with. Because his birthday was in January, he missed the cut off and was sent to a concentration camp where he did slave labor. Knowing death was around the corner my grandfather saw an opportunity and bravely escaped into the forest. When the war was over, my grandfather was given free transport to Israel and while on his way he stopped in France. There, a man about his age was asking for news from Czechoslovakia. My grandfather was face to face with his first cousin who he had not seen for 10 years. His cousin was part of the French resistance and convinced my grandfather to stay in France.My grandparents lived in France for 10 years and had two children. My grandfather was worried about another European war so he moved to America where freedom was the backbone of society.This passport represents much more than an escape from a land of persecution to a land of freedom. My grandfather not only made a new life in New York, but also provided the best opportunity available for his 6 children from the little that they had. He taught me the ultimate value of life, and even though he is gone, his legacy lives on.

Year: 1955

– Tyler Crespi

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant